Medication Shows Promise for Helping Problem Gamblers
A new study suggests that drugs used to treat substance addiction can also effectively treat pathological gambling.
In the study, presented in early December at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, pathological gamblers were divided into two types:
- People driven to gamble by an intense urge too strong for them to control (they gamble because of a strong desire to)
- People who gambled as a result of an inability to control impulsive behaviors (they gamble as a result of any impulse to, no matter how slight)
Different types of drugs, all of which act on brain chemicals, were found to be effective in treating different types of pathological gambling. For example, those with a family history of problem gambling (a subtype of the first group) were found to respond especially favorably to opioid blockers such as naltrexone.
What Does This Mean?
As study author Dr. Jon Grant stated in a news release, "By understanding these different subtypes [of gamblers], we are able to target the core biology of the illness with individualized treatment." According to Dr. Grant, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, "When we look at pathological gambling as an addiction and try to understand the sense of urge and inhibitions, we are able to target the treatment with medication more effectively."